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Currency-5e

From top to bottom: copper, silver, gold, electrum, and platinum pieces.[1]

When bartering for goods and services no longer meets the needs of commerce, the sentient beings of the Realms turn to using items with a more universal value, namely precious metals, gems, and some minerals. Metals are rarely found in their pure form in nature and require significant energy and effort to refine and purify them. In general, the rarity and the amount of effort it takes to produce a given metal determines its worth. Sometimes this formula is modified by a particular property of the metal, or by a widespread use (and therefore greater demand). The penalty for counterfeiting is death in most places because cities, kingdoms, and nations rely on the acceptance and trust of their currency.[2]

Gems are even rarer than metals and require great skill in mining, cutting, and polishing. Gems have great value because people desire them for their beauty and often wear them in jewelry. The arcane Arts also require certain gems as spell components which increases their rarity even more as they are consumed in the casting of powerful spells.

1st Edition CurrencyEdit

In the 1st Edition Forgotten Realms Campaign Set, the kingdom of Cormyr is used as a representative example of a location with a standard system of currency. The names and values of the various coins are:

1 platinum piece= 1 platinum "tricrown"
 = 5 gold "lions"
 = 10 electrum "blue eyes"
 = 100 silver "falcons"
 = 1000 copper "thumbs"

This valuation system is prevalent but not ubiquitous throughout the Realms.[2]

CormyrEdit

The royal coinage of Cormyr is stamped with a dragon on the obverse and a treasury date mark on the reverse. There is no paper currency other than I.O.U.s which are known as "blood-notes" because they must be signed in blood by all parties involved and taken to the local Lord for the affixing of the royal seal.[2]

2nd Edition CurrencyEdit

The 2nd Edition Forgotten Realms Adventures source book states that the FR uses the standard rates of exchange between coins as noted in the Player's Handbook 2nd edition[3][4]:

1 platinum piece= 1 platinum
 = 5 gold
 = 10 electrum
 = 50 silver
 = 500 copper

Platinum coins were called tricrowns, plats, or pearls (in particular the Southern versions, which were officially named roldons).[4]

AmnEdit

1 platinum piece= 1 platinum
 = 5 gold "danters"
 = 10 electrum "centaurs"
 = 50 silver "tarans"
 = 500 copper "fanders"
[4]

CalimshanEdit

1 platinum piece= 1 platinum
 = 5 gold
 = 10 electrum "tazos" and "zonths"
 = 50 silver "decarches", "espedrilles", and "red worms"
 = 500 copper "unarches", "radas", "niftens", and "spanners"
[4]

Calimshan made silver decarches, espedrilles, and the ochre-tinted red worm of Memnon. Red worms were cast from silver and then coated with a dye. Old coins with the dye worn off were called "skinned worms".[4]

Calimshan also produced copper unarches, radas, niftens, and spanners.[4]

CormyrEdit

1 platinum piece= 1 platinum
 = 5 gold "lions"
 = 10 electrum "blue eyes" (round)
 = 50 silver "falcons"
 = 500 copper "thumbs"

Although gold coins, the most common coin used by adventurers, were often called golden lions throughout the Realms, only the Cormyan coins were actually stamped with the figure of a lion.[4]

SembiaEdit

Silver piece-5e

The Sembian silver piece was triangular-shaped.

1 platinum piece= 1 platinum
 = 5 gold
 = 10 electrum "blue eyes" (diamond-shaped)
 = 50 silver "hawks"
 = 500 iron "steelpence"

Sembian silver hawks were triangular in shape. Cormyrian falcons and Sembian hawks were used interchangeably. Sembian gold coin designs varied from year to year but were always a distinguishing five-sided shape.[4]

Sembia also released a square iron coin called the steelpence which was similar in value to the copper. The Sembian steelpence was introduced by the Sembian government to replace the silver piece, but it was overproduced and its value had since dropped to 1cp.[4]

Sembia produced no platinum coins but readily accepted those of other nations.[4]

Trade bars from Sembia were ingot-shaped silver bars dotted with copper and the Sembian symbol. They were considered "face value" and typically came in 5, 10, 25, and 50gp denominations.[4]

ShaarEdit

Shaar Rings were made of sliced and bored ivory and hung on long strings by the plainsmen of Shaar. Rings were found in bundles, and each ring was worth 3gp each.[4]

Shou LungEdit

Shou Lung copper was any copper coin which was not immediately recognizable, and therefore declared to come from the mystical East and given a value of 1cp. Only a small number of these coins actually came from Shou Lung, or any of the Kara-Tur nations, but the name stuck. Shou Lung silver was similar: any unknown or badly worn silver coin given a value of 1sp.[4]

Trade bars from Shou Lung were slender bars of silver, definitely oriental in origin, that had made their way to the West. Shou Lung trade bars were worth about 40gp each.[4]

SilverymoonEdit

The electrum moon of Silverymoon was worth 1ep throughout the Realms but double that in the Silver Marches.[4][5]

TethyrEdit

Due to upheaval in Tethyr during the Interregnum period, Tethyan gulders, moelans, myrats, and zonths were only worth 60–90% of their usual value.[4]

Tethyr made use of two-gold-piece coins called "brakar". They also produced trade rings in 20-, 50-, and 100-gold-piece weights.[6]

TharsultEdit

Tharsult Statues were small art objects used in trade. They were made of ivory, jade, or serpentine and were used as coinage in that region. Most of these that reached the North were treated as curios and were worth around 15gp. In their native land they were worth about 5gp each.[4]

ZakharaEdit

1 platinum piece= 1 platinum
 = 5 gold "dinars"
 = 10 electrum
 = 50 silver "dirham"
 = 500 copper "bits"
[7]

WaterdeepEdit

  • A Waterdhavian toal is worth 2gp in Waterdeep and practically nothing elsewhere.[4]
  • A Waterdhavian Harbor moon is a special coin in the shape of a crescent, made of platinum and inset with electrum. It is used in bulk purchases in Waterdeep where it is worth 50gp. Outside Waterdeep the value drops to 2gp.[4]

Other CurrencyEdit

Gond bells were introduced by the Lantanese and used in regions of the North, in particular in trade between worshipers of Gond. The small brass bells enclosed a loose ornamental stone which caused it to clatter. Each was worth 10gp on the open market or 20gp if traded to a church of Gond.[4][8]

Paper currencyEdit

Mercenary Cards were small cards of parchment about the size of a Talis card, marked on one side with the symbol of a particular mercenary company. The reverse was usually a handwritten scrawl from the troop's paymaster authorizing payment. These became currency by being found in loot caches, won in card games, or stolen from the unwary.[4]

Blood notes were scrolls, letters, or other carvings representing I.O.U.s and promissory notes from the listed person(s) to the holder of the note. Blood notes could be offered by individuals, adventuring companies, or countries and cities to cover debts. In common usage the debtor was legally obligated to pay when the note was presented. Blood notes from deceased individuals were not binding.[4]

Bela was paper money used by barbarian tribes to the east in Kara-Tur. In western Realms it was worthless and occasionally offered as an insult.[4]

A Letter of Trade was similar to a Blood Note and called for a delivery of a particular item or items to the bearer.

Trade barsEdit

Trade bars from merchants were thin silver bars marked at one end with the value, typically 10, 20, or 50gp, and the other end had the symbol of the trading institution or coster which created it. An increasing number of these bars bore the mint mark of Baldur's Gate. Trade bars of the Iron Throne trading group were not honored by other trading organizations because this group was considered disreputable. Broken trade bars had no value but most merchants would continue to honor the trade bars of defunct institutions.[4]

Trade bars from Lantan were flat envelope-shaped bars of worked steel marked with the great wheel of Gond. They were worth 20gp each and used primarily along the Sword Coast.[4]

Trade bars from (Mirabar) were made of black iron and shaped like rectangular spindels(sic). They were worth 10gp in Mirabar and 5gp in the rest of the Realms.[4]

3rd Edition CurrencyEdit

In 3rd and 3.5 editions of D&D, the currency system is in decimal form with each coin worth ten coins of the next highest value denomination:[9][10]

1 platinum piece= 1 platinum
 = 10 gold
 = 100 silver
 = 1000 copper

SembiaEdit

The triangular silver coin of Sembia is called a raven. The five-sided gold coin is called a noble. Iron steelpence are used instead of copper pieces.[8]

Silver Marches (Luruar)Edit

Silverymoon mints its own coin, the moon. It is valued at 2gp and is accepted throughout the Silver Marches.[11]

WaterdeepEdit

In Waterdeep a toal is a coin that is worth 2gp in the city but practically worthless outside the city. The toal is a square brass coin with a hole in the center to allow it to be strung on a string. A shard is the Waterdhavian term for a silver piece. Copper pieces are called nibs, gold pieces are called dragons and platinum pieces are called suns.[8]

4th Edition CurrencyEdit

Coinage and Currency [in the Realms][12]
“Coins come in a bewildering variety of shapes, sizes, and materials, minted all over the world. Because such a variety of coins are in circulation, most people simply use whatever coinage passes by.”
“A coin’s value is expressed in the weight of the precious metal of which it is made. The current standard is:”
Coin Value (gp) Waterdeep Sembia
cp  1100 copper nibs iron steelpence
sp  110 silver shards silver ravens
gp 1 gold dragons gold nobles
ep 5 electrum blue-eyes
pp 10 platinum suns
“Coins are not the only form of hard currency. Many merchants prefer to use trade bars, which are ingots of precious metals and alloys stamped or graven with the symbol of the trading coster or government that crafted them. A one-pound trade bar of gold is valued at 50 gp, and heavier bars are worth proportionately more.”

5th Edition CurrencyEdit

In 5th edition D&D the currency system follows the proportions of 3rd and 4th editions, with the exception of the electrum piece, which is again worth 5 silver pieces as in 2nd edition:[1]

1 platinum piece= 1 platinum
 = 10 gold
 = 20 electrum
 = 100 silver
 = 1000 copper

A gold bar weighing 1 lb was worth 50 gp.[13]

Standard Exchange Rates [1]
Coin cp sp ep gp pp
Copper (cp) 1  110 150 1100 11,000
Silver (sp) 10 1  15  110  1100
Electrum (ep) 50 5 1  12  120
Gold (gp) 100 10 2 1  110
Platinum (pp) 1,000 100 20 10 1

Instead of referring to the coins by their material, most people would call them by their original government-issued name, except for the ones minted at Zhentil Keep. The following sections specify the names and exchange rates of the most widely used and accepted currencies across Faerûn as of the late 1480s DR and early 1490s DR.[14]

Amn Edit

1pp= 1 "roldon"
 = 10 gold "danters"
 = 20 electrum "centaurs"
 = 100 silver "tarans"
 = 1000 copper "fanders"
[14]

Cormyr Edit

1pp= 1 "tricrown"
 = 10 gold "lions"
 = 20 electrum "blue eyes"
 = 100 silver "falcons"
 = 1000 copper "thumbs"
[14]

Sembia Edit

1gp= 1 gold "noble"
 = 2 electrum "blue eyes"
 = 10 silver "hawks"
 = 100 iron steelpence
[14]

In Sembia, the steelpence was made of iron, but had the same value as the copper piece equivalents of other locations.[14]

Silverymoon Edit

Silverymoon currency-5e

The eclipsed moon from Silverymoon, the waterdhavian pierced harbor moon, and Sembian triangular hawks.

1pp= 1 "unicorn"
 = 10 gold "dragons"
 = 20 electrum "swords"
 = 100 silver "shields"
 = 1000 copper "glints"
[14]

In addition to these coins, Silverymoon also minted the crescent-shaped electrum "moon", valued at 2 unicorns (or 1 unicorn outside of Silverymoon); and the round "eclipsed moon", rated at 5 unicorns in Silverymoon and 2 unicorns elsewhere.[14]

Waterdeep Edit

1pp= 1 "sun"
 = 10 gold "dragons"
 = 20 electrum "sambar"
 = 100 silver "shards"
 = 1000 copper "nibs"
[14]

Like Silverymoon, Waterdeep also minted special coins: the square brass "taol" was worth 2 dragons, but had no value elsewhere, so they were usually exchanged when one left the city; and the palm-sized crescent-shaped platinum "harbor moon", inset with electrum, was rated 50 dragons in the city, or 30 dragons everywhere else. Both coins had holes to allow them to be stacked in strings.[14]

Zhentil Keep Edit

1pp= 1 "platinum glory" ("flat metal gem")
 = 10 gold "glories" ("weeping wolves")
 = 20 electrum "tarenth" ("hardhammers")
 = 100 silver "talons/naal" ("flea-bits")
 = 1000 copper "fangs" ("dung-pieces")
[14]

AppendixEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford (2014). Player's Handbook 5th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 143. ISBN 978-0-7869-6560-1.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Jeff Grubb, Ed Greenwood and Karen S. Martin (1987). Forgotten Realms Campaign Set (Cyclopedia of the Realms). (TSR, Inc), p. 9. ISBN 0-8803-8472-7.
  3. David "Zeb" Cook (August 1989). Player's Handbook (2nd edition). (TSR, Inc.), p. 66. ISBN 0-88038-716-5.
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 4.14 4.15 4.16 4.17 4.18 4.19 4.20 4.21 4.22 4.23 4.24 4.25 Jeff Grubb and Ed Greenwood (1990). Forgotten Realms Adventures. (TSR, Inc), pp. 129–130. ISBN 0-8803-8828-5.
  5. Paul Jaquays (1988). The Savage Frontier. (TSR, Inc), p. 7. ISBN 0-88038-593-6.
  6. Steven E. Schend (1997). Lands of Intrigue: Book One: Tethyr. (TSR, Inc.), pp. 14–15. ISBN 0-7869-0697-9.
  7. Jeff Grubb and Andria Hayday (April 1992). Arabian Adventures. (TSR, Inc), p. 85. ISBN 978-1560763581.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 91. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
  9. Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Skip Williams (August 2000). Player's Handbook 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 96. ISBN 0-7869-1551-4.
  10. Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Skip Williams (July 2003). Player's Handbook 3.5 edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 112. ISBN 0-7869-2886-7.
  11. Ed Greenwood and Jason Carl (July 2002). Silver Marches. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 85. ISBN 0-7869-2835-2.
  12. Bruce R. Cordell, Ed Greenwood, Chris Sims (August 2008). Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 45. ISBN 978-0-7869-4924-3.
  13. Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford (2014). Player's Handbook 5th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 157. ISBN 978-0-7869-6560-1.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 14.5 14.6 14.7 14.8 14.9 Kim Mohan ed. (2015). Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 13. ISBN 978-0786965809.

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